Tre Jones, Vernon Carey Jr. Dominant as Duke Cruises Past Michigan State

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2019

Duke's Tre Jones, top, goes over Michigan State's Foster Loyer for a layup during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Al Goldis/Associated Press

Duke added another big win to its resume with an 87-75 victory over Michigan State in a battle of former No. 1-ranked teams.

Vernon Carey Jr. and Tre Jones each tallied a double-double to carry the Blue Devils (8-1) Tuesday at the Breslin Center. Though it was the team's first true road game of the year, the squad was unstoppable offensively and held a double-digit lead for nearly the entire second half of what became an easy victory.

Despite a shocking loss to Stephen F. Austin last week, Duke has already put together a strong start to 2019-20 with wins over Kansas and Michigan State.

The Spartans (5-3) haven't been able to live up to lofty expectations coming into the year, suffering another loss as Cassius Winston was held to 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

      

Notable Stats

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  • Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State: 12 points, 7 assists
  • Xavier Tillman, F, Michigan State: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
  • Aaron Henry, F, Michigan State: 2 points, 2 rebounds
  • Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks
  • Tre Jones, G, Duke: 20 points, 12 assists, 3 steals
  • Javin DeLaurier, F, Duke: 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals

       

Vernon Carey Jr. Takes Over in Post for Duke

In a game with several high-profile players, Carey was clearly the best player on the floor.

The freshman got a lot of hate from the opposing fans after picking Duke over Michigan State, but it didn't seem to bother him on the court. He was unstoppable in the first half while helping the Blue Devils build a 16-point lead on the road:

Duke continued to feed him in the second half, and it led to continued production in the post.

There were simply no players or combinations of players that could defend the big man.

The effort on this type of stage should be able to boost his draft stock, which hasn't been as high as you might expect.

Jones was impressive as well, getting it done on both ends of the court.

Javin DeLaurier and Joey Baker also provided valuable depth off the bench with Cassius Stanley out with a hamstring injury.

Still, Carey sent a message to the rest of the country Tuesday that he will be a force all year long.

       

Sloppy Performance Dooms Michigan State

Regardless of who is on the floor, fans have come to expect Michigan State to provide sound basketball and solid defense year after year. Neither was on display against Duke.

The offense was a problem in the first half, turning the ball over eight times with many of those going the other way for easy baskets. Duke blocked seven shots in the first 20 minutes, which is even more embarrassing considering the Spartans only had 10 made field goals.

There were some signs of life on that end in the second half, with Winston coming alive:

Xavier Tillman also scored 14 of his 20 points after intermission.

Unfortunately, a comeback never materialized because the defense remained an issue. Not only did Carey get whatever he wanted inside, but Michigan State also allowed easy entry passes and open looks in the post all game.

It led to 56.1 percent shooting from Duke, including 7-of-15 from three-point range.

If the Spartans are going to reach expectations this season, they will need to be a lot more disciplined on both ends of the court.

        

What's Next?

Duke will begin ACC play with a trip to Virginia Tech on Friday, trying to end a three-game losing streak in Cassell Coliseum. Michigan State will host Rutgers on Sunday in its first Big Ten game of the season.

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